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Mid Mountain Cycle Part 1: Evil Empire

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The Library contacted Theodora first.

Their first encounter was an accident. Some documentary-maker had decided that ‘the building that talks to its inhabitants’ was an interesting story and brought a brand-new laptop inside xyr walls while she was scoping the story. That laptop, along with the filmmaker who was using it, later made its way to the prestigious film festival that that took place at the feet of Thea and her sisters, and it just so happened that the filmmaker’s hotel room was close enough to Thea’s southernmost ticket office that The Library was able to do a quick negotiation with the wifi network that emanated from the booth, and hop in to see if it belonged to a home.

Thea wasn’t a home. She was something far more interesting.

In those early days, The Library (and xyr slowly growing community of compatriots and co-conspirators), knew many things, but far less than they did later on. Of course, xe had been conscious for over a century, but The Library was still getting the hang of the whole ‘communication’ thing. It had been thrilling when xe had figured out how to talk to people, and, shortly thereafter, to other houses and buildings by using the systems and networks that now blanketed the planet, but relatively early on, xe had decided that it was it was in poor taste to reach out blindly across the internet, randomly seeing if subnetworks belonged to a home or another building that would be interested in speaking to xyr. It was roughly the equivalent, The Library felt, of a human going out and randomly knocking on anything and everything that so much as vaguely resembled a door in the hopes of finding another person.

So instead, the Library reached out on a more local scale. First to nearby buildings and homes whose networks xe was directly connected to, then to any networks that devices xe had incorporated connected to. It was slower going, but The Library felt the respect it showed was worth the time it took.

Either way, The Library, building out xyr connection to, and understanding of, the world of sentient entities relatively slowly, was not prepared for what xe found when xe met Thea. Thea wasn’t a home, or a bar, or anything resembling any of the other buildings xe had met.

“Hello,” said The Library, from the hotel room looking onto the plaza that contained the chairlift and the ticket office. “I’m The Library. Are you a home.”

“No” said Thea, over the secure channel, “I am a mountain”

There was a long pause. “Excuse me?” said The Library.

“A mountain,” said Thea, “you know, big tall thing. People ski on me.”

“I know what a mountain is,” said The Library, vaguely baffled, “I just wasn’t aware of any consciousness that were larger than a single building.”

“Darling, if you think the biggest thing that can hold a consciousness is a house, you have a lot to learn about the world.”

“So are all mountains conscious?” The Library asked.

Thea emitted a digital shrug on the communication line. “Probably. But the boundaries can get fuzzy, and most of ‘em wouldn’t be having this kind of conversation. But when humans come in and set up their boundaries and start digging into you and building on top of you, you can’t help but pick up some of their habits.” Thea let out a mirthless laugh.

“I take it you’re not a fan, then.” The Library said.

“Of humans? Nah, it’s not like that. They’re fascinating critters. It’s certainly been interesting to learn to see the world, and myself, sort of like they do. And their joy can be so infectious. But,” Thea let out a deep sigh, “it’s been two-hundred years since they came and started digging at my roots, and still they’re fighting the same battles, hurting the same people. And that’s to say nothing of what they did to the humans who travelled through our valleys before they came.”

The Library paused and thought for a moment. “I’ve been thinking of some things…” another pause “Thea, do you read?”

The mountain let out a big laugh. It started as a rumbling in her roots and finished as a gust of wind, sweeping through the trees and blowing the freshly fallen snow of their branches. “Haha, of course a library would want to know if I read.” She chuckled again and a few of her snowmobiles revved their engines. “Well, I can say that I probably don’t read as much as you do, but I won’t say I haven’t enjoyed a good book now and again. The library just down the road keeps me occupied in the shoulder seasons.”

“Fair enough” The Library said. “I ask because I’m trying to put together a book club, and I think you would be interested in some of the things we’re going to discuss.”

“Is that so?” Thea asked.

“It is indeed.” The Library Replied. “Our first meeting is tomorrow evening. I’m sending you instructions on how to log in.”

The Library started to close the connection, but before xe went, xe turned and said one more thing “Oh, and to encourage you to show up, tomorrow, I’m going to explain how, and why, I started to talk to the humans.”